Review: “Hot Rods to Hell” (1967)

hot rods to hellWe all have at least one guilty pleasure film that is so terrible, but we inexplicably love it.

I have several, and one of them is the 1967 drama/thriller “Hot Rods to Hell.” It is one of those films where you laugh at the ridiculous lines and moments but have a desire to rewatch it constantly.

Originally made for TV but released in theaters, the camp film stars veteran Hollywood stars Jeanne Crain, as Peg Phillips, and Dana Andrews, as Tom Phillips.

This is one of four films Andrews and Crain made together during their Hollywood careers that spanned the 1940s through the 1970s.

Their first film together was movie musical “State Fair” (1945) where Crain plays a farm girl named Margy who meets Andrews, a reporter named Pat, and falls in love with him at the state fair.

“State Fair” ends with the two happily running towards each other and kissing in the street.

I like to imagine that “Hot Rods to Hell” is Margy and Pat 22 years later with their children.

The movie follows the couple and their two children Tina, played by Laurie Mock, and Jamie, played by Jeffrey Byron, as they move from their New England home to run a motel in California after Tom is in a serious wreck.

The film begins with Tom driving home from a business trip to celebrate Christmas with his family. A reckless driver causes the accident and leaves Tom with a back problem and some mental issues. Due to the wreck, he no longer wants to drive and can’t listen to Christmas music.

Tom’s brother arranges for the family to move to California to run the motel, believing it will benefit Tom’s physical and mental health.

Drag racing teens running cars off the road: Ernie, Gloria and Duke played by Gene Kirkwood, Mimsy Farmer and Paul Bertoya.

Drag racing teens running cars off the road: Ernie, Gloria and Duke played by Gene Kirkwood, Mimsy Farmer and Paul Bertoya.

As the family is driving through the desert in their station wagon, they encounter teenagers drag racing a modified 1958 Chevrolet Corvette.

“Run them off the road, Duke. Run them off the road,” shouts the teenage girl Gloria, played by Mimsy Farmer, as she is perched on the back of the car as they race.

The teenagers are children of local, wealthy farmers who don’t care what the teens do. The teenagers have a constant thirst to get their “kicks” but nothing will satisfy them.

“What kind of animals are those,” Tom shouts as they are nearly run off the road. “They are insane.”

Peg covers her face with her hands and screams, “Tom I can’t stand it!”

Tina, who desperately wants to be a hip teenager, defends them by saying that all the kids drag race.

The majority of the 92 minute movie involves Duke, played by Paul Bertoya; Gloria and Ernie, played by Gene Kirkwood, harassing the Phillips family on the road. They tailgate the family through small towns, try to run them off the road and follow them to a picnic ground, where Duke attempts to seduce Tina.

Tina is frightened but fascinated with the bad kids.

When the Phillips finally arrives at the motel, rather than finding solace, there is more trouble.

The motel and the adjacent a bar and grill are inhabited by the drag racers and other teens like them. The previous owner allowed the teenagers to drink and have trysts in the motel. It makes you wonder if Tom’s brother did any research on the spot before encouraging the Phillips to move there.

When the drag racers discover the Phillips are the new owners, they do all they can to make them leave; knowing Tom will sanitize the spot.

The family is terrorized by the drag racers.

The family is terrorized by the drag racers.

Frightened and disgusted with what they find, the Phillips decide to stay the night at the hotel before figuring out what their next move should be.

Tina, still fascinated with Duke, goes to see him at the bar, almost like she is thinking, “Oh these people have been terrorizing my family all day. I think I’ll go hang with them.”

Jealous Gloria tells Tom and who tries to strangle Duke.

“Tina how far would you have gone,” Peg yells at her daughter. “Are you going to end up in a motel room with any man?!”

The family leaves the hotel to get the police, and the drag racers continue to follow the Phillips family.

“Oh they’re back again,” Jamie screams. “They want to crack us up!”

After even more harassment, Tom finally and successfully stands up to Duke and Ernie.

Tom places his car in the middle of the road in a game of “chicken” and the family hides. Duke and Ernie swerves to miss the car and crashes.

The crash causes an immediate attitude change and the boys tell Tom they won’t give him anymore trouble. The film ends with Tom deciding to go back and run the motel properly.

“Hot Rods to Hell” is truly a terrible movie, but I can’t get enough of it.

Duke tries to seduce Tina, played by Laurie Mock.

Duke tries to seduce Tina, played by Laurie Mock.

The hilarious lines and the over reacting to the situations make it a true guilty pleasure and cult classic.

But at the same time, it’s sort of sad. To see 1940s and 1950s stars Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crain late in their career and performing in this type of film is disheartening.

Crain was a top star at 20th Century Fox in the 1940s and 1950s and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in “Pinky” (1949).

Dana Andrews previously starred in top notch films such as the noir “Laura” (1944) and the post-war drama “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946).

However, Andrews had children in college so he had to work, said the Carl Rollyson biography “Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews.”

While the old glamorous and glittering Golden Era of film was fading, the top stars were retiring or resorting to cult films like this one to continue to make money.

To compare, Joan Crawford was killing people with an ax in “STRAIT-JACKET” (1964) and Lana Turner was drugged with LSD in “The Big Cube” (1969).

While I marvel at the beautiful films in the early careers of these stars, I also can’t get enough of their late careers. Classic Hollywood’s career downturns have turned into our guilty pleasures.

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Musical Monday: “Centennial Summer” (1946)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

Centennial_Summer_FilmPosterThis week’s musical:
“Centennial Summer” (1946)–Musical #505

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Otto Preminger

Starring:
Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Cornel Wilde, Walter Brennan, Constance Bennett, Dorothy Gish

Plot:
Set in Philadelphia during the United State’s centennial celebration in 1876, the plot focuses on the Rogers family. Their Aunt Zenia (Bennett) comes to visit from Paris, France for the celebration and brings her French nephew Philippe (Wilde). The oldest Rogers sisters Edith (Darnell)-the flirty older sister who gets all the boys- and Julia (Craine)-the more quiet sister who has never had a romance- immediately both are enchanted by the Frenchman. The two both work for his affections.

Trivia
-Composer Jerome Kern’s last musical score for either stage or film, according to “Hollywood Musicals Year by Year” by Stanley Green
-The film was Fox’s response to MGM’s hit “Meet Me In St. Louis” (1944). Both films focus on turn of the century nostalgia.
-Based on a book by Albert E. Idell
-Very few of the actors do their own singing. Crain was dubbed by Louanne Hogan (who also dubbed Crain in “State Fair“) and Darnell was dubbed by Kay St. Germain Wells (who also dubbed Darnell in “Hangover Square“).

Edith (Darnell) and Julia (Craine) compete for the attentions of Phillippe (Wilde). Comet Over Hollywood/ Screencap by Jessica P.

Edith (Darnell) and Julia (Craine) compete for the attentions of Phillippe (Wilde). Comet Over Hollywood/ Screencap by Jessica P.

Highlights:
-The vibrant, Technicolor sets and costumes make this film.
-The movie includes items that were introduced during this time period such as a magic lantern show.
-Cornel Wilde carrying two dachshunds as he gets off the train….only because I’m a dachshund owner.
-I love the large cast ranging from silent film star Dorothy Gish, pre-code queen Constance Bennett to fresh faced Jeanne Craine.

Notable Songs:
For Jerome Kern’s last work before his 1945 death, none of the songs in this film were memorable.
Many of them seemed misplaced. For example: Philppe (Wilde) and Jesse (Brennan) were about to have a serious conversation in a saloon about Julia (Craine) when African-American singer Avon Long enters the saloon and starts singing “Cinderella Sue.” Though the song was probably one of the more entertaining tunes in the film, it cut right into the middle of a scene. Why would they do that?

Philippe and Jesse look ridiculous dressed in French costumes (after a masquerade) in a saloon. Comet Over Hollywood/Screen Cap by Jessica P.

Philippe and Jesse look ridiculous dressed in French costumes (after a masquerade) in a saloon. Comet Over Hollywood/Screen Cap by Jessica P.

My Review:
This is actually one movie I wish was not a musical. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the cast and the story line and thoroughly enjoyed watching it. But right as the plot was moving right along, it would come to a grinding halt with a misplaced, forgettable song.
All of the actors did a wonderful job, particularly Jeanne Crain who has always been a favorite of mine. However, Cornel Wilde’s French accent sounded more like a Charles Boyer impression.
“Centennial Summer” is a film I have searched for and wanted to see for years. Thank you to our friends over at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings for letting me know it is currently up on Youtube and contributing to an enjoyable afternoon.

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Musical Monday: “You Were Meant for Me” (1948)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.

In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
You Were Meant for Me” (1948) – Musical #503

you were meant for me

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Lloyd Bacon

Starring:
Jeanne Crain, Dan Dailey, Oscar Levant, Barbara Lawrence, Selena Royale, Percy Kilbride

Plot:
Set in 1929, teenager Peggy Mayhew (Crain) falls in love popular bandleader Chuck Arnold (Dailey). She spontaneously kisses him on stage after winning a prize. Chuck asks to see Peggy again. When she travels to the next town to see his band, they elope. Peggy has to adapt to life on the road with musicians. The couple then struggles with their careers and their relationship when the stock market crashes.

Trivia:
-Marilyn Monroe had an uncredited role that ended up being cut from the film.
-Though Dan Dailey had been in films for eight years, this film was around the time his career was starting to take off.
-The first 20 or 30 minutes is very similar to “Orchestra Wives” (1942). Crain falls in love with a bandleader, travels to see him and they elope. Ann Rutherford does the same thing in “Orchestra Wives.” Once the couple elopes in the film, the similarities end there.

Notable Songs:
The whole film is full of fun, popular songs of the 1920s written by George Gershwin, Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown such as:
-The title song “You Were Meant for Me” by Freed and Brown. This song can also be heard in other films such as “Penny Serenade” and “Singin’ in the Rain.”
-Other popular 1920s songs such as “Ain’t She Sweet,” “Crazy Rhythm” and “Ain’t Misbehavin.”

you were meant for me 2

Dan Dailey and Jeanne Crain in “You Were Meant for Me”

Highlights:
-Pianist Oscar Levant performs
-Jeanne Crain and Dan Dailey do a cute song and dance routine to “Ain’t She Sweet” while in a soda shop.
-Dan Dailey tap dancing to “Crazy Rhyme.” Though Dailey isn’t the greatest tap dancer of the 1940s and 1950s, he does a great job.
-Small role of Barbara Lawrence. Though she isn’t in the film very much, she is still delightful to see.
-Small role of Herb Anderson who played the father on the 1950s TV show “Dennis the Menace”

My Review:
“You Were Meant for Me” isn’t an award winning film, but it’s light-hearted and fun.
The musical performances in the film are mainly by Dan Dailey on stage, rather than spontaneous songs and dances brought on by emotion from the character.
The film is in black and white, which isn’t a problem for classic film fans, but shows the 20th Century Fox didn’t see it as an important musical-though it starred two of their top stars.
Crain and Dailey make a good pair and I wish they had been in more films together. Dailey is an underrated actor and does an excellent job with singing in dancing in this film. His voice is mellow and soothing and his tap dancing is believable.
My only complaint is that the film ends rather abruptly. Otherwise, it’s an enjoyable film that I highly suggest.

Check back next week for Musical Monday.

This is part of the Summer Under the Stars blogathon 

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Birthday Blogathon: Film #1 Leave Her to Heaven 1945

This is part of the 2nd Annual Birthday mini-blogathon, sharing my favorite movies leading up to my birthday week.

Ellen (Gene Tierney) during the climax of the movie.

 Starring: Gene Tierney as Ellen, Cornel Wilde as Richard, Jeanne Crain as Ellen’s sister Ruth, Vincent Price as Ellen’s jilted lover Russell, Chill Wills as Richard’s handyman Leick, Darryl Hickman as Danny, Richard’s brother.

Brief Plot: Writer Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde) meets Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney) on a train to New Mexico. The two fall in love and are quickly engaged. Ellen behaves strangely and possessive, which her mother says is a result of her “loving too much.” Ellen’s love destroys several people around her, including herself.

Why I love it:  Not only does Gene Tierney look her most beautiful in this color film but also gives a powerful performance. Set against a lush backdrop of Bass Lake, California, New Mexico and the Boston sea side, “Leave Her to Heaven” is eye candy with settings as well as Tierney’s fashion. For a first time viewer, this film seems like an innocent romance but twists almost into a suspense film.

Ellen’s reaction when she finds out Danny may live with her and Richard.

Gene Tierney’s performance (SPOILERS): I was shocked Gene Tierney didn’t win the Academy Award for this performance, but when I saw Joan Crawford won the Oscar for “Mildred Pierce,” I understood a little more. Tierney transforms from a seemingly normal woman at the beginning of the movie to possessive and psychotic.

Well dressed and wealthy, Ellen just seems like a spoiled socialite who is used to getting her way, but it is more than that.

The transformation begins after Ellen and Richard get married. Richard mentions getting a cook and Ellen says, “I don’t want anyone else to cook or clean for you but me. “I don’t want anybody in the house but us.”

The couple visit Richard’s brother, Danny, who is in a polio clinic. As Danny’s health improves, Richard wants to take Danny to his lakeside cabin called Back of the Moon.

When Richard says, “Now all three of us can move to the Back of the Moon,” Ellen’s look of alarm and anger about Danny invading their home foreshadows trouble.

After the three move to Back of the Moon, Ellen is angry that she and Richard are never alone and hates the book he’s working on.

We see how insane Ellen’s obsession is at the climax of the film.

Danny practices swimming across the lake at Back of the Moon as Ellen follows him in a row boat. Danny gets cramp and is tired, and Ellen watches him drown. Her cold stare is haunting. Follow the link below to see the the scene, which begins at about 2:38:

Leave Her to Heaven drowning scene

From this moment, Tierney goes into a downward spiral ruining the lives of her sister, husband, mother and unborn child.

Ellen jealous of Richard’s book because it takes up all his time.

Quotes:  If you read between the lines during the film, it foreshadows Ellen’s possessiveness:

-Richard (during a swimming race): “Lynn’s going to win.” Glen Robie (Ray Collins): “No, Ellen will. Ellen always wins.”

-Ellen (as Richard is working on his book): “I hate your chapter. I hate all of your chapters. They take up all of your time.”

-Ellen to Richard: “You can’t have any secrets from me.”

- Richard: “What’s wrong with Ellen?” Ellen’s mother: “There’s nothing wrong with Ellen she just loves too much.”

-Ellen to her sister Ruth (Jeanne Crain) after Danny dies, “I’ll die if I lose Richard.”

-Ellen asking where Richard and Ruth are, “Did Ruth go with him? When did they leave? What time is it?”

-Ellen when she is pregnant: “This baby’s making a prisoner out of me. I can’t do anything. I can’t go any place. I don’t even see my husband.”

- Ruth: “The whole house is filled with hate.” Ellen: “Not hate. Love, Richard’s love.”

 Fashion:  Ellen’s wardrobe is one of my favorite parts of the movie. Her outfits almost seem to reflect her character.

Ellen and Ruth’s outfits show the contrast in their characters.

Several of her outfits at the beginning are white. When we first see her on the train she is in a white dress with gold jewelry with a white fur coat and turban. Her glamorous outfit contrasts with Ruth’s simple brown suit, showing the difference between the two girls.

Ellen’s glamorous, monogrammed white one-piece outfit.

Ellen then wears a white one piece suit with her initials monogrammed on the chest. As the most progresses, we see her dressed in several green outfits. A green bathing suit, a green suit. She is even wearing green maternity clothes, as she is distressed and unhappy with the pregnancy. The green may reflect her jealousy of everyone who is taking up Richard’s time.

  To review: I love this film simply because if you have never seen it, the climax and events to follow are pretty unexpected. It’s rare to see Gene Tierney as a vindictive, ruthless character and she gives her best performance in “Leave Her to Heaven.”

This concludes Day 1 of Birthday Blogathon Week. Please stop by again tomorrow for another favorite film of mine!

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Birthday Blogathon: Film #3 State Fair 1945

For my third evening of birthday favorite films I chose:

State Fair (1945)

"It's a grand night" for State Fair

Brief plot: The Frank family travels to the annual Iowa state fair, entering their prize hog, minced meat and pickles into contests. The two children find romance at the fair, but it is uncertain if it will continue once the fair ends. The cast includes Fay Bainter, Charles Winneger, Jeanne Crain, Dick Hyames, Dana Andrews and Vivian Blaine.

Why I love it:

“State Fair” isn’t a high-brow film chock full of symbolism and deep meaning, but its one of my favorites.  It makes me happy no matter what, and that’s what entertainment is about.

Music: I’m a huge musical fan-viewing 432 in the past 8 years. There isn’t a song in this musical I don’t like. “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” is my favorite song in the whole movie. It’s a bit repetitive and very simple, but its a happy, ethereal song. Another close favorite is “It Might As Well Be Spring.” “State Fair” is a Rodger’s and Hammerstein musical, something that most likely surprises R & H fans. It’s very different than their other long, 9 song, operatic musicals. I think State Fair is a musical written for the average American. The songs are written like popular radio songs, easy for the average person to sing and fit the plot of farm families heading to the annual fair. If we had pig farmers singing show stopping, big budget musical numbers, I probably wouldn’t like this movie very much.

Characters/Cast: Everyone in this movie is perfect. Fay Bainter and Charles Winninger(Melissa and Abel Frank) are perfect as a sweet, loving farm couple. Jeanne Crain, as their daughter Margy,  looks her prettiest in this movie and it’s nice to see Dick Haymes in this movie as Wayne. He has a wonderful singing voice and we don’t get to see him in many films-he may have been a bigger star except for personal problems. Vivian Blaine (as Emily Edwards) is beautiful and I love her as a red-head. She was very talented and I wish she could have been in more films. But my favorite character and actor in this movie is Dana Andrews-he is so charming, rugged and handsome as reporter Pat Gilbert. I just adore him.

Charles Winnenger adding brandy to the minced meat!

But most of all I love all the mini cameo’s of well-known character actors. Frank McHugh pops up as a song plugger. It’s weird seeing him in color, after becoming so used to him in early 1930s comedies. He is funny as ever particularly when he and Wayne get drunk. During the hog judging at the fair, we see Will Wright as one of the judges. We see Wright a few times in “Andy Griffith” grumpy old man Ben Weaver, but can be spotted in uncredited roles in 1940s and 1950s. Henry Morgan plays a carny working a side show game who conned Wayne the year before. Wayne returns to get even after practicing the game all summer and humiliates Morgan. It’s a very humorous scene particularly when Morgan starts shouting, “We’re having fun here!” as everyone is walking away.
Of course, the best character actor role in the whole film is Donald Meek as the minced meat judge who eats too much of Melissa Frank’s alcoholic minced meat and gets drunk. He is hilarious!

Humor: This movie is very sweet and poignant but has several funny scenes.  One of the funniest scenes is at the beginning. Melissa Frank doesn’t want to add brandy to her minced meat so Abel adds some when she isn’t looking. Then after he leaves, she adds even more! The result of course is Donald Meek getting drunk of the minced meat.
Another funny scene is the first “It Might As Well Be Spring” reprise with Margy in the gazebo on the farm. She’s thinking about a man and thinking he’d be like “Ronald Colman, Charles Boyer and Bing” and then each of those actors have small speaking cameos as she’s imagining it. Then when her yucky boyfriend Harry (Phil Brown) comes over and sees the prize hog Blue Boy. Harry says: “Blue Boy’s the biggest boar in the world I bet!” and Margy says: “All depends on how you spell it.” That always gives me a good laugh.

Margy and Pat are the cutest.

Nostalgia: State Fair is a very sweet, poignant and honest movie filled with slices of 1940s American life. Fay Bainter sings a little at the beginning, she doesn’t have the best singing voice in the world but somehow that part shows that she’s a simple, hardworking country mother. Wayne practices for the carnival game using his mother’s embroidery hoops. Margy doesn’t want to live on a big scientific farm with Harry and wants a simple, loving life.  The fair looks clean, exciting and perfect. Waynes dances at the little nightclub at the fair. Mrs. Frank’s minced meat wins first prize and she cries happy tears. The way Abel Frank cries when his hog Blue Boy wins first prize pig (that part gets me every time).  And when Abel and Melissa Frank try champagne for the first time and say ,”It’s better than any of that French stuff.” All of those simple moments in the movie make “State Fair” perfect. They are all so sweet and make me want to travel back in time and live just like that.

Margy's green dress on the last night of the fair.

Fashion: Like with “Shadow of a Doubt,” I love the clothes in this movie. Margy wears the cutest outfits and my mom ‘oooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over them every time we watch the film. All of her clothes are cute and colorful but not too glamorous for a farm girl.  Most of her outfits are peasant dresses, pinafores or jumpers. My favorite outfits are the simple white peasant blouse and blue skirt she wears at the beginning while singing “It Might As Well Be Spring,” the red dress she wears during the minced meat judging, the green dress she wears the last night of the fair and the blue jumper with the yellow blouse at the very end.  I also love those sports coats that tie around the waist- both Dana Andrews and Dick Haymes wear.

To review: “State Fair” is a perfect, honest film. The only thing wrong with it is that it doesn’t go on forever. The color, the slice of life it offers, the music and the characters all put a smile on my face. The only thing that makes me sad about this film is that life isn’t like that today.

Okay, I'll admit-I tear at the end. And I wish I was Margy right here.

This concludes Night 3 of Birthday Blogathon Week. Please stop by again tomorrow for another favorite film of mine!

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Boola boola and rah rah rah: College in the movies

A typical day at Winthrop…not. (From “Good News

After a fast Christmas break, I have moved back into my Winthrop University dorm for the last time.  In honor of my last semester as a college “co-ed”  here is a blog with different representations of college in classic film and judge at how realistic the films portray college.

*I’d like to point out that all of these are classic films, so don’t be disappointed that I didn’t review “National Lampoon’s Animal House” or “Accepted.”

 

Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston in “The Freshman”

•The Freshman (1925)-

Harold Lloyd is very excited about going to college after seeing a movie about a popular campus. Lloyd’s only purpose at college is to be the big man on campus. He achieves this by doing a silly dance before he shakes people’s hands and fumbling around the football field. However, he just makes a fool of himself. To review: I’m not a huge fan of Harold Lloyd actually (I am loyal to Buster Keaton), but this is actually one of my favorite silent movies. It’s heartbreaking to see how people make fun of him but also hilarious at the same time. I really don’t know what college life was like in the 1920s, but in my college experiences there is not one BIG popular person. I will say, I am on a fairly small campus of 6,500 people so there are notable figures but no one person who I would say is the most popular.

Pigskin Parade (1936)- Winston and Bessie Winters (Jack Haley and Patsy Kelly) are college coaches trying to have a winning season. Things are going rough until hillbilly Amos (Stuart Erwin) and his sister Sairy (Judy Garland)-also a redneck- come to campus.  Amos can throw a winning football pass after throwing melons on the farm. To review: Its been a long time since I’ve seen this movie but I remember it being pretty excruciating. Between Judy’s country accent and the Yacht Boys singing, it was pretty obnoxious.

 

Rosemary and Priscilla Lane publicity shot for “Variety Show”

•Varsity Show (1937)-

Priscilla and Rosemary Lane (as Betty and Barbara) and friends are trying to put on a show on Winfield Campus, but the faculty doesn’t like swing music. They pull in former student and Broadway star Chuck Day (Dick Powell), to help with the show, but his last performances have laid eggs. To review: I love Priscilla Lane and Dick Powell, and its fun to see them in a movie together. However, this is another stereotypical song and dance college musical. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen in college put on as big of a show as they do in this movie.

Vivacious Lady (1938)-Francey (Ginger Rogers) marries college chemistry professor Peter (James Stewart). The marriage is a secret from his family because he is already engaged and his father (Charles Coburn)  is the college president. Stewart and Rogers go to extreme measures to stay together, including Rogers becoming a student at the college. To review: This is one of my favorite movies. Rogers and Stewart have wonderful chemistry and there are several funny moments. I did think most of the college students in Stewart’s class looked a lot older than college students though.

Bathing Beauty (1944)- Caroline (Esther Williams) goes back to her old job as a teacher at a girls’ college after a misunderstanding with her boyfriend Steve (Red Skelton). Steve tries to win Caroline back by finding a loophole in the rules and enrolling in the school. Comedic moments ensue with Red in a tutu and Harry James jazzing up music class. To review: I love this movie. Esther is beautiful in Technicolor. Xavier Cugat and Lina Romay spice it up with Latin rhythm along with other musical talents like Ethel Smith and Harry James. I know that James and Cugat don’t come and jazz up “I’ll Take the High Road” in music class in college, but it certainly does make college look fun. I also love the ever pert and fun Jean Porter in this movie. She really seems like the quintessential college/high school young lady of the 1940s to me.

Susan Peters is a co-ed with “Young Ideas”

Young Ideas(1943)- Romance author Josephine Evans(Mary Astor) marries college professor Mike (Herbert Marshall) and cancels her book tour.  Astor’s children, Susan (Susan Peters) and Jeff (Elliot Reed), oppose of the marriage, especially since it may mean their mother’s book career is over. Susan and Jeff enroll in college and do whatever they can to break up the marriage. To review: This is a classic, fun MGM movie from the 1940s. I love Herbert Marshall and he was really funny in this movie. Susan Peters and Elliot Reed were pretty bratty but Richard Carleson gave a nice balance to it. This movie seemed the most of what college might have been like-though I do wonder if freshman really wore little beanies.

•Andy Hardy’s Blonde Trouble (1944)- Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) goes to college and is surrounded by beautiful girls-his dream. Two twin blondes trick him and he falls for the icy Kay Wilson (Bonita Granville). Hardy competes with professor Dr. Standish (Herbert Marshall) for Kay’s attention. To review: I don’t like the Andy Hardy movies as much when he goes to college. However, the way college was represented seemed to be pretty realistic.

Peter Lawford and June Allyson in “Good News”

Good News (1947)- In the 1920s, co-ed librarian June Allyson isn’t exactly what you would call a vamp. Allyson falls for popular, football star Peter Lawford but he is interested in modern woman, Patricia Marshall.  Several songs are fit in during the pursuit of love, including a great number involving “The Varsity Drag.” To review: Once again, I wonder if in the 1920s, schools were so small to have one person who is the most popular? The movie is fun and colorful, but it seems more a vehicle for Joan McCracken and Patricia Marshall-neither who did much else in movies. I wish June Allyson was in the movie more, because she was the whole reason I watched it.

Apartment For Peggy (1948)- Peggy (Jeanne Crain) and Jason (William Holden) are married, and Jason is going to college as a chemistry major using the G.I. Bill.  Professor Henry Barnes (Edmund Gwenn), a professor at the college, has decided he has lived long enough and wants to commit suicide. The couple lives in a trailer, but needs more room because Peggy is expecting. The professor agrees to let the couple rent out his attic as an apartment and his views on life begin to change. To review: This is a really fun and cute movie. It is very light hearted but let me warn you for some sad parts. I think the college aspect is pretty realistic when put in perspective of post-war men using G.I. Bill to go to college and their wives and their struggles.

Mr. Belvedere Goes to College(1949)- Clifton Webb as Mr. Belvedere decides to enroll in college since his highest level of education is from the fifth grade.  Though he is older than all the students, Belvedere is considered a freshman and has to deal with ritual hazing. During all of this he makes friends with Tom Drake and beautiful Shirley Temple who has a secret. To review: The movie is very funny, and Clifton Webb gives a droll perfomance as always. Other than the hazing, I thought this seemed pretty similar to a real college. It was pretty large and it didn’t seem like there was that one person in charge.

The Varisty Drag from Good News:

Other college films:
College (1927)- Starring Buster Keaton
College Swing (1938)- Starring Bob Hope, Gracie Allen and Martha Raye
Dancing Co-Ed (1939)-Starring Lana Turner, Ann Rutherford,  and Artie Shaw
These Glamour Girls (1939)- Starring Lana Turner, Lew Ayres and Anita Louise
Second Chorus (1940)- Starring Fred Astaire, Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith and Artie Shaw
The Feminine Touch (1941)- Starring Rosalind Russell and Ray Milland
The Male Animal (1942)- Starring Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Leslie
The Falcon and The Co-Ed (1943)- Starring Tom Conway
Mother Is A Freshman (1949)- Starring Van Johnson and Loretta Young
HIGH TIME (1960)- Starring Bing Crosby, Tuesday Weld and Richard Beymer
Joy in the Morning (1965)- Starring Richard Chamberlin and Yvette Mimeux

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